Linguistik-Klassifikation: Sprachgeschichte / History of language
Auxiliary selection and counterfactuality in the history of English and Germanic
- The retreat of BE as perfect auxiliary in the history of English is examined. Corpus data are presented showing that the initial advance of HAVE was most closely connected to a restriction against BE in past counterfactuals. Other factors which have been reported to favor the spread of HAVE are either dependent on the counterfactual effect, or significantly weaker in comparison. It is argued that the effect can be traced to the semantics of the BE perfect, which denoted resultativity rather than anteriority proper. Related data from other older Germanic and Romance languages are presented, and finally implications for existing theories of auxiliary selection stemming from the findings presented are discussed.